Building Bridges Thru Art – Veterans’ Voices In Art
Inspiration for the ‘Veterans’ Voices’ art project came to me while attending an April 2017 town hall meeting in Paso Robles. The town hall was organized to hear from participants on concerns in serving the needs of Central Coast veterans. The event provided an opportunity to listen and engage with veteran’s on issues including: housing, assistance, PTS, mental health, benefits and more.
With over 40,000 veterans living on the Central Coast, the needs are vast for veterans and their families. The town hall panel members represented a broad scope of services. The panel included: Congressman Salud Carbajal, a veteran himself; Lt. Col. Gregory Arenas, California, Army National Guard and Camp Roberts Operations Supervisor, who interacted with veterans and active soldiers for referrals to services, particularly mental health programs; Cindy Conn, SLO Vet Center Manager and former U.S. Army Chaplains’ Assistant, spoke about counseling, sexual trauma, and bereavement services; and Sandy Murry, VASH housing program coordinator for the Veterans’ Administration Supportive Housing Program.
In the town hall meeting, veterans spoke of difficulties receiving the help and the attention they deserved in a timely fashion. In short, many expressed not being heard or helped. Being an artist, I started imagining their problems as paintings and sculptures, wrapped in red tape. This experience stayed with me. I was bothered by what I perceived to be the neglect of our military people who gave so much to serve our country.
How could art help? What if veterans could use art to visually share emotions and heal in the process? What if the pain, the pride, the anger and the fear could be thrown up and out of the physical body? Could art provide a healthy dialogue about healing, and engage a supportive community?
After dreaming of an art show that would allow veterans to express their voices through the visual medium, I decided to act. I spoke with the executive director of 'Studios on The Park' who agreed for me to exhibit at their venue with the stipulation that I would do all the curation, the physical work and be self-fund. I discussed the project with Carlota Santa Cruz, then president of the Paso Robles Art Association, it was confirmed; together we would support the multiple aspects needed to create the "Veterans Voices" project. In the first year of the ‘Veterans Voices’ art project, the funding would be provided by myself, Deprise Brescia, creator/curator, and Carlota Santa Cruz, while the Paso Robles Art Association would provide workshop space and many local artists would volunteer.
Volunteer artists would mentor veterans through the art process. Professional artists would serve as translators for many of the message’s veterans wished to share. Many professional artists, veterans themselves, would participate in the art exhibit. Each veteran’s uncensored viewpoint would be shared. Every branch of service would be represented. The ideas expressed would be as varied as the unique life of each participant.
The art project would serve to share thoughts and feelings, to promote wellness, enhance community, and open genuine dialogue for positive change. We would introduce art into the lives of many who may not have experienced arts’ healing influence or had not created from their own life stories. Together we’d build bridges of communication through art, encourage people to express themselves, reduce stressors and heal. Research has shown that art can be successfully used in healing with remarkable results.
We did it! The ‘Veterans’ Voices’ art project began in early 2017 with workshops and classes that led up to the first art exhibition in January 2018, and over eighty veterans and their families participated. Congressman Salud Carbajal, a veteran himself, came to opening night and presented special Congressional recognition to myself, Deprise Brescia creator - curator, and LTC Gregory Arenas, military liaison and co-curator in the first year.
Multiple veteran service organizations urged us to continue the veterans’ art project and told us about possible grant assistance from the California Arts Council. Two grant writers guided us over several grueling nights of research, and we submitted the grant application minutes before the deadline. We were accepted thru the Paso Robles Art Association and the SLO Office of Education, and we provided the ‘Veterans Voices Returns’ art project. The organization, Vet Art.org, worked with us providing bronze casting workshops and busts for veteran participants. The arts-based workshops and classes reached over one hundred veterans and their families, and culminated in the March of 2019, month long exhibition. The ‘Veterans’ Voices Returns’ art project gained Congressional recognition for two outstanding members: WWII Veteran, Richard Bloomquest and Artist, Hart Junge, the founders of the Paso Peace Community.
In year three, we partnered with the SLO County Arts Council, the California Arts Council and the SLO County Office of Education. Professional artists, veterans themselves, provided classes for veterans and their families with enthusiastic participation. The artworks were completed and made ready for the April 2020 exhibit. The lockdown hit in March 2020 and the venue cancelled.
What to do with all the amazing art that veterans and their families created? Taking quick action, I developed the on-line gallery for ‘Veterans’ Voices 3’ Art Exhibition 2020. To date, over a hundred-thousand viewers from around the world have appreciated our veterans’ artwork. You can see this great art at the website shown here. https://deprisebrescia.com/veterans-voices-art-2020
We keep going strong! ‘Veterans’ Voices 4’ 2020-2021 continues with SLO County Arts in collaboration with the California Arts Council, SLO County Office of Education and community donations. Our new location is the Deprise Brescia Art Gallery 829 10th Street Suite B, Paso Robles CA 93446 (Downtown next to Hotel Cheval).
As a salute to this epic moment in time, we begin this year’s ‘Veterans’ Voices 4’ art project with a ‘Butterfly Sculpture Garden’ called the ‘Wings of Change’. Why butterflies? The butterfly is a master of transformation. It goes thru a ‘complete metamorphosis’, as it remakes its caterpillar self into a winged beauty, a symbol that we can transform, too. Larger than life wooden butterflies are prepared for veterans and their families to paint with uplifting thoughts. Share your positive vision for change on the wings of a butterfly. Be a part of the ‘Butterfly Sculpture Garden’ as we continue ‘Building Bridges Through Art’.
We invite veterans and their families to experience different art modalities through 2020 and into 2021!
Are you a veteran and want to participate in ‘Veterans’ Voices 4’?
Contact The Deprise Brescia Art Gallery, 829 10th Street, Paso Robles, CA 93446
‘Veterans Voices’ is made possible in part by SLO County Arts, the California Arts Council, the SLO County Office of Education and community donors.
Veterans' Voices – January 2–29, 2018
Building Bridges through art.
This exhibition is an opportunity for those who have served in the armed forces to express themselves through the artistic medium. All branches of service, both active and retired are welcome. All mediums of artistic expression are encouraged. We are giving veterans voices through art.
A wise person once said, “Time is your most valuable asset”. Those who have served have given their most valuable gift of time. In return they were given: pride, patriotism, honor and respect as well as PTSD, mental health issues, homelessness, isolation, loss of hope and faith. All of these are byproducts of service and war.
We ask them to share reflections on their lifetimes, playtimes and pastimes. What has their service meant to them? What did they take away from their experience through service? How have they suffered? How have they healed? How do they feel? How can we help?
Through infinite creativity we include three areas of participation:
1) Veteran artists participate in their own right, sharing their art and how they use it to heal. Students discover and share their findings through portraiture & interview.
2) Artists as mentors collaborate with veterans to synergistically co-create artwork and in the process build bridges of friendship, hope and healing.
3) As artistic interpreters, professional artists listen to the stories and ideas our veterans share to flush out and create their artistic visions.
This is how we build bridges through art and tap into its healing power.
Another wise person once said, “Youth is wasted on the young”. What if we shared truth from our souls and risked vulnerability in order to educate and bring wisdom to our youth? Could we change our future by sharing the truth of our past?
Join us in this thought provoking show as we listen with our eyes, hear with our hearts and feel with our souls what the voices of our veterans have to say.
If you are a veteran with a voice and wish to be heard, this show is for you.
The Deprise Brescia Art Gallery is centrally located in beautiful downtown Paso Robles, next to Hotel Cheval. This location is a working art studio and showroom gallery. Feel free to message me here.
829 10th Street, Suite B, Paso Robles, California 93446, United States
Art Inspires Life
Create A Masterpiece
I have a vision of creating art for uplifting people, places and spaces, by raising energetic frequencies and vibrations.
Art filled with positivity for entrainment.
Allow me to help you create your sacred space with love & light. ~ Deprise
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